On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer
CSIRO Publishing, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Far out west, on the grassy plains straddling the borders of New South Wales and Victoria, lives a little bird, the only one of its kind in the world. With no other relatives in its family tree, and itself moving closer to extinction because its habitat is diminishing as the land is farmed, and threats like foxes and other predators constantly endangering them, it is one of the world’s rarest and most threatened species.
But on this, National Threatened Species Day (recognised on September 7 because that’s the anniversary of the death in Hobart Zoo in 1936 of the last thylacine), it is time to shine a spotlight on this little creature to make it, and its plight, more widely known. Although the scientists have been able to start a captive-breeding program, which includes using a feather duster in an unusual way, the birds lead such secretive lives it is not an easy task.
Told in a facts-rich narrative with life-like illustrations, with further information at the back as well as teachers’ notes, this is another opportunity to highlight another seriously endangered creature that is not as well-known as others. Even if the plains wanderer is not in our particular neighbourhood, other species are and students can be encouraged to consider their ecological footprint and what they can do to help so that their awareness is raised and they realise that even an individual can make a difference so Australia’s pitiful record of species loss can be stemmed.
Now is the time to introduce our students not only to this little bird – adults are just 15-19cm high and weigh 40-95 grams- but to other unique Australian species through books like Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity , A Shorebird Flying Adventure, Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths, One Potoroo and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish so that other species don’t go the way of the thylacine.